With some provisions of the Affordable Care Act in place and others set to begin in the next 12 months, health care lawyers and local insurance representatives admitted Thursday they still didn’t have all the answers as to how the laws will work.
Two representatives of the Miller & Martin law firm and the leaders of three local insurance companies spoke at a health care forum sponsored by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce.
“The good news is, the government wants to make it work,” said Susan Steelman, an attorney with the law firm. “The ultimate goal is to get everyone in compliance.
Steelman and Christopher Crevasse, also with the firm, said businesses will get points for effort to comply with the new health care laws.
“Diligence and good faith effort will be recognized,” she said.
The ultimate goal of the health care law is to increase the quality of care and reduce health care costs. It was signed into law in March 2010 and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it constitutional in June 2012. All of the law should be enacted by 2018.
Next year, 2014, will be a big year for the law as the employer mandate kicks in. But the attorneys said employees don’t have to sign up for the health care. As long as the employer offers health care and it meets the standards of affordability, the employer is considered in compliance.
People who don’t sign up for health care through their employer are eligible to participate in “exchanges,” and that’s where many of the unanswered questions lie.
“We just don’t know enough about how the exchanges will work,” said Edward Smith of Hutchinson-Traylor Insurance.
Steelman and Crevasse recommend that employers determine their number of full-time employees and determine whether their coverage meets the affordability requirements. Using federal poverty guidelines is suggested.
“The winners in this could be older employees who have been seeing increases in their costs as they get older,” said Bill Parr of J. Smith Lanier Insurance. “Overall though, employees will probably see a 20 to 30 percent increase in costs overall.”